Synopses & Reviews
One of the most notorious Americans of the twentieth century was a failed Broadway actress turned radio announcer named Mildred Gillars (1900-1988), better known to American GIs as Axis Sally. Despite the richness of her life story, there has never been a full-length biography of the ambitious, star-struck Ohio girl who evolved into a reviled disseminator of Nazi propaganda.
At the outbreak of war in September 1939, Mildred had been living in Germany for five years. Hoping to marry, she chose to remain in the Nazi-run state even as the last Americans departed for home. In 1940, she was hired by the German overseas radio, where she evolved from a simple disc jockey and announcer to a master propagandist. Under the tutelage of her married lover, Max Otto Koischwitz, Gillars became the personification of Nazi propaganda to the American GI.
Spicing her broadcasts with music, Mildred used her soothing voice to taunt Allied troops about the supposed infidelities of their wives and girlfriends back home, as well as the horrible deaths they were likely to meet on the battlefield. Supported by German military intelligence, she was able to convey personal greetings to individual US units, creating an eerie foreboding among troops who realized the Germans knew who and where they were.
After broadcasting for Berlin up to the very end of the war, Gillars tried but failed to pose as a refugee, but was captured by US authorities. Her 1949 trial for treason captured the attention and raw emotion of a nation fresh from the horrors of the Second World War. Gillars's twelve-year imprisonment and life on parole, including a stay in a convent, is a remarkable story of a woman who attempts to rebuild her life in the country she betrayed.
Written by Richard Lucas, a freelance writer and lifelong shortwave radio enthusiast, Axis Sally: The American Voice of Nazi Germany is the first thoroughly documented look at this mythologized figure of World War II.
"Shortwave radio enthusiast Lucas carefully chronicles the life of Mildred Gillars, known to American GIs during WWII as 'Axis Sally,' in this first full-length biography of the infamous radio propagandist for Nazi Germany. With the aid of declassified federal documents and a glut of newspaper coverage after the war, Lucas follows Gillars from her Ohio upbringing to a failed New York acting career to her transformation into the Axis Sally under the tutelage of her married German lover. Known for a voice that oozed 'like honey out of a big wooden spoon,' Gillars was mythologized by GIs as the personification of Nazi propaganda. In her prolific broadcasts she interviewed POWs, taunted American soldiers, and revealed secret locations of American troops. She was ultimately tried for treason, served a 12-year prison sentence, and spent the rest of her long life on parole. In this fascinating, well-researched account, Lucas attempts to isolate the people and events that may have led Gillars to assume her moniker, telling a story 'of poverty and hunger.' Gillars was 'a woman who, like the Führer she served, wished to accomplish great artistic feats but instead wandered into history and infamy.' Photos.
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One of the most notorious Americans of the 20th century was a failed Broadway actress turned radio announcer named Mildred Gillars, better known to American GIs as "Axis Sally." Under the tutelage of her married lover, Max Otto Koischwicz, Gillars became the personification of Nazi propaganda to the American GI.